White lion Aurora lioness born in 2018 came to us early in 2021 as part of our Witness Protection Program.
We’d been waiting for this day for a long time. You might even say years.
It began with over 200 big cats owned by Tiger King’s notorious Joe Exotic. Most in tiny cages, most breeding year-round to create more cubs for cub petting profit, many sold to other roadside attractions.
By the time the final seizure of big cats took place, there were only 68 big cats remaining on the property. These cats had recently been moved from Joe Exotic’s GW Zoo (taken over by Jeff and Lauren Lowe) to a new property in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Social media posts talked about how it would be the best state-of-the-art tiger park in America. It wasn’t!
The property consisted of rent-to-own sheds and mostly small, barren cages. Many of the cats were still in the metal 7′ x 12′ transport crates they were moved to the property in.
It took the coordination of multiple sanctuaries, the USDA and the Department of Justice to remove all 68 big cats in just 48 hours. To be efficient and as safe as possible, rescue roles and a schedule were clearly outlined beforehand.
The torrential rains the night before actually helped, hardening the long hills of a driveway to access the cats. But it was an extremely hot day.
Jeff and Lauren Lowe were sequestered to their house, shed and driveway while the process of moving cats began.
Dozens of U.S. Marshals were onsite with trailers, UTVs, weapons and cameras to ensure safety of the rescuers during the transfer.
We agreed to take in cats we had open habitat space for. These cats had already lived in cramped conditions their entire life.
We certainly didn’t want them to have to do it again while we built new enclosures. Our goal was the cats we rescued could move out to large, spacious habitats as soon as their quarantine period was over.
We knew that, between all the reputable sanctuaries, all the cats would have homes. No big cat would be left behind.
Thankfully, the pickup, transport and unloading all went smoothly. Once here, all cats had intake exams, blood work and vaccinations at our own cost. We wanted to ensure we had baseline information about their health.
We were not allowed to share their stories for fundraising while the case was active. That means, for almost a year, your support helped us cover the costs of their habitats, daily food and husbandry, enrichment and heated indoor spaces
But just like the residents you already know, these cats received the individualized care and love every resident receives – thanks to YOU!
Life at the Sanctuary
White lion Aurora had been living with her sister in a small 1100 square foot cage, most of it consisting of a suspended 2-story skywalk.
Jeff and Lauren Lowe’s social media pages show photos of when they first bought the cubs. They were having free contact with these lions, walking them on leashes, and merging them with a black jaguar.
These girls have a diamond facial structure and deep inset crossed-eyes, sure signs of inbreeding. Sadly, they were bred for what humans consider “beauty,” with no concern for the genetic issues that can cause lifelong health issues for them.
Seeing these girls explore their new grassy, tree-filled, free-roaming habitat brought tears to our eyes. They explored with no hesitation at all.
These young girls are full of energy, just like our bobcat sisters Sky and Selene, but with a little less coordination.
Aurora has a more angular face with very crossed eyes. She has already had several vet procedures to remove fast growing masses from under her tongue and on her lip. Thankfully, they were benign.
But these growths can also be caused by a virus that can be recurring, and even life-threatening if it affects too much of the cat’s tongue.
Aurora has already undergone two procedures to remove, biopsy and monitor the growths.
She also arrived with irregular blood values, which corrected after receiving proper care. The Department of Justice did cover the out-of-pocket costs of the biopsies performed.
Nothing holds her back from playing and her favorite thing is the huge toy balls we gave the girls. They’ve hit those balls up and down the fence so much we had to reinforce the fence!
But all this playtime is over at feeding time – they’re very assertive eaters and have to be separated for feeding.
We’re hoping we don’t see more health issues since they are inbred big cats. Luckily, they’re now here with us where they’ll get the top notch care they deserve.
How You Can Help
Our sponsorship program is what makes top notch care possible for our residents, like Aurora. She’d love to have you as her sponsor parent! Or even a one-time donation toward her care would help so much, too.
You’ll find buttons at the top of this page if you’d like to help Aurora in a very special way. Thank you!